ETR has reported on the health and fat-burning benefits of interval training for years now. But the mainstream media is just finally catching on.
In a recent study performed at Canada’s McMaster University (my alma mater), subjects did three interval training workouts per week, featuring interval sprints. The sprints were not easy, done at the hardest pace the subjects could manage for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, another group did moderate cardio five days per week. What the researchers found was that the short-burst interval training workouts were just as heart-healthy as the moderate-intensity cardio workouts.
The intensity of interval exercise can help prevent the early onset of cardiovascular disease by reducing the stiffness of blood vessels. And now this study suggests that shorter workouts are just as good as long cardio workouts.
So, yes, replace your long cardio workouts with short-burst training. But before you get started, remember that it is important to train safely when doing intervals.
The subjects in the McMaster study did the intervals on stationary bikes, which meant they had less risk of impact injury and muscle strains compared to sprinting. (That is why I have always preferred the bike over running for interval training.) But I want to point out that they trained “all out” for 30 seconds – which I do not recommend if you are sedentary, unfit, injured, or if you have not exercised in years.
If you are a beginner to interval training but are exercising now, start by increasing the intensity of your workouts for 30 seconds and then reducing the intensity for two minutes. Continue to build up the 30-second “sprint” intensity over several workouts, until you are at a hard, but not “all out,” pace. You will still get a lot of the benefits without the risk of injury.[Ed. Note: Long, slow cardio is NOT the way to burn fat. You can lose weight and get fit – and spend a lot less time in the gym. Learn more here.
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